If you're preparing for life in a new country, have just arrived, or even if you've been putting off learning since you got off the plane, here are 10 tips that will build your fluency and confidence in a matter of weeks.
1. Learn face-to-face with native speaking teachers: Apps? Online memory games? Let's be honest, there's no substitute for face-to-face classes with teachers. Especially native speakers who live and breathe the language. They're also the people who will inspire and motivate you. Are they easy to find? Sure, once you've arrived in your new home country. But what if you want to learn with a fluent speaker before you pack…?
2. ...Join an online learning classroom. If you're familiar with video conferencing, or even just Skype or FaceTime, you'll have a good idea of what it's like to learn online, face-to-face with a language teacher. Companies that offer this service typically use a platform specially designed for the teacher to chat face-to-face with students, and present learning materials. The best also offer private or small group classes (3-4 students).
3. Choose a school with a flexible schedule. To learn a language in three months, you'll need to take a class pretty much every day. Not easy when you've just arrived in a new country and you need to find an apartment, track down a doctor and register with the town hall (among a million other things). Online learning gives you the opportunity to book classes any time day or night, including evenings and weekends. And of course there's no need to travel to and from a classroom.
From dating, to getting broadband installed, to registering at the town hall: learning a language should prepare you for real life situations. Photo: Lingoda.
4. Shop around to get value for money. Flat deposits, new furniture, removal vehicles: The first weeks in a new country can be expensive. Language learning doesn't come cheap, but some schools are better value than others. Online language schools, such as Lingoda which offers English, Business English, German, Spanish and French, are often less expensive because they don't have the bricks and mortar overheads of an offline school.
5. Find your motivation! Learning a language in three months is all about discipline and good habits. If you're an early bird, take your classes before work. Night owls need to find a quiet corner in the flat to take a late night course. Be prepared to make sacrifices. It's no fun learning with a hangover! That being said, some schools offer their own incentives. Lingoda offers The Lingoda Marathon, a three-month course where participants get all their money back if they complete a class a day for three months (30 classes per month).
6. Find out whether learning materials are included. Make sure, wherever possible, that learning materials are provided by your school and aren't a hidden extra. Textbooks and other materials are potentially expensive, so always read all the small print. And if you choose an online school, make sure that it offers a standard curriculum for all its classes - rather than leaving it up to the teacher to provide their own lessons.
7. Get a certificate at the end of your course. There's no point taking a language learning course if you don't have the evidence to share with your employer or another academic institution. Ask up front if you'll get the paperwork at the end of the course and find out how to use it when applying for a job or another course.
8. Learn for real life. We all know the drill from school. Learn the name of 20 animals in French. What are the most popular cakes in Germany? Not really useful when you're stuck trying to register your address at the town hall. Modern language learning courses should teach you to deal with real-life situations. From opening a bank account and getting broadband installed to dating dos and don'ts in your new city.
9. Learn for work. Learning a language isn't just about vocabulary and grammar, it's about learning how to work smarter – knowing how to appropriately apply for that job you want, how to express understanding to your work colleagues and how to ask for that raise you deserve. The latest classes, including online learning, should teach you all need to flourish in the workplace from applying for a job to running a meeting to organising a business trip.
10. Choose the right level. You wouldn't start running five miles a day from scratch. The same rule applies to learning a language. Make sure you get a proper assessment of your language skills so that you join a teacher and a class that meets your needs. Most schools use the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, where beginners start at A1 right through to experts (C2).
Follow these tips and you'll be well on your way to learning a language in three months! Like any new skill, there will be highs and lows, but the upside is huge. There is no greater thrill than when you speak a new language fluently and confidently in real-life, with real people.
If you'd like to learn a language in three months (English, Business English, German, French, Spanish) - and get up to 100 percent of your course fees refunded - check out the Lingoda Language Learning Marathon.
This content was produced by Lingoda.